WASHINGTON – The U.S. needs to provide education, especially English-language proficiency, to foreign militaries, not just weapons and equipment, a national security expert said Thursday.

“In order to be interoperable, English language proficiency is priority one, two and three,” said Lincoln Bloomfield of the Stimson Center think tank and former ambassador focusing on aviation security.

While the focus has primarily been on equipment in the past, it is time to shift gears towards education for better defense relations with Arab countries, he and other speakers at the 28th U.S. Arab Policy Makers Conference, Thursday.

“Equipment is good but it is necessary, not sufficient…,” said David Des Roches, an expert of U.S.-Arab relations. “Education is the most important aspect…all throughout the region, there is a major focus on military education and integrating a culture of critical thinking.”